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SAP TechEd 2022

SAP TechEd 2022 took place this year as a virtual event and also as a live event in Las Vegas.

Following our discussion of what to expect of this year’s sessions, this week IgniteSAP is providing a digest of the most important themes to arise in those sessions and also the many announcements about new SAP products and innovations.

We hope this will give our community a good idea which sessions to sample from the on demand content which has been made available here.

Themes of the Keynote Sessions

In the Opening Keynote on November 15th SAP’s Chief Technology Officer Juergen Mueller addressed the fundamental issues facing the business community: global disruption and environmental challenges. There were also contributions from SAP developers and SAP customers including Omar Mitchell from the National Hockey League, discussing how SAP solutions have enabled the NHL to address sustainable infrastructure and growth initiatives.

As with previous years, Mueller also used the opportunity to formerly announce a couple of major changes to the SAP portfolio of solutions.

SAP has been taking steps to address the skills gap in the IT industry which IDC predicts could expand to a shortfall of 4 million developers by 2025. SAP is attempting up skill two million developers worldwide by 2025, supporting the skills growth required for those interested in exploring a career in the SAP ecosystem.

Juergen Muller announced that as part of this effort they are expanding on the low code development projects that were announced at last year’s TechEd. SAP believes that by making low code development tools available to business users as well as coding professionals then that will go a long way towards addressing the skills gap. Business users can carry out simple application development tasks as part of their administrative roles, freeing professional developers to tackle more complex and added-value scenarios.

Introducing SAP Build

Mueller announced that SAP is releasing SAP Build: a collection of three previously separate SAP solutions now in a unified development environment: SAP Build Apps, SAP Build Process Automation, and SAP Build Work Zone.

“SAP Build’s unified developer experience makes it easy to build powerful web and mobile applications. It has a beautiful user experience, powerful back end capabilities and seamless integration to work flows, to RPA bots, to low-code and to the other the functionalities in S/4. Access to business application data for example is very easy and it is secure. And we can help you solve business challenges faster, thanks to the world’s largest domain-specific library of content… and finally SAP Build allows business teams to collaborate with development and IT teams because we will need strong development and IT teams but we need to work together. Developers can encapsulate their code which they wrote for example in Business Application Studio and then this can be used by business users to develop an SAP build. IT can also enforce consistent governance and lifecycle management capabilities across all apps being developed.”

SAP Build Process Automation is also deeply integrated with SAP Signavio, the process intelligence and transformation solution so Signavio’s pre-build configurations can be deployed using SAP build Process Automation.

SAP Build Work Zone now combines the SAP portal products SAP Launch Pad service and SAP Work Zone. This means that modern business websites can be created using a low code development portal.

ABAP Cloud

There was also a big announcement for professional developers.

“ABAP based extensions and modifications have been a key success factor of SAP’s ERP. And now it’s time that we repeat the success in S/4HANA Cloud, while following a Clean Core approach. For this we need to turn these modifications and classic custom ABAP code into upgrade-stable extensions. This is at the centre of the Clean Core approach, and allows for smooth S/4HANA upgrades. On our SAP Business Technology Platform the ABAP environment has been used for years by partners and by customers to build side by side extensions and Cloud solutions.”

Juergen Mueller introduced ABAP Cloud for S/4HANA Cloud and S/4HANA on-premise.

“Once you switch your ABAP objects to ABAP Cloud, the ABAP compiler will actually make sure and help you to stick to the rules of ABAP Cloud and all this is exciting because it enables you to get to a clean core in a much, much simpler way…So from now on ABAP Cloud shall be your preferred ABAP development model.”

SAP on Coursera

A large segment of the session was dedicated to SAP initiatives for improving learning methods and resources for SAP students and professionals as another means to addressing the widening technology skills gap, including a new partnership with Coursera, the online learning platform.

“SAP is launching entry level professional certificates on Coursera. These certificates are designed
for learners of all backgrounds, no college degree or industry experience required. They prepare learners for entry level job roles in some of the most in demand fields… As a Coursera subscriber you can learn everything you need to get a certificate as an SAP technology consultant, and with
certified solution skills you can of course get a competitive advantage in your current role and the marketplace in general.”

As well as this SAP tripling its free courses on the SAP Learning site, focussing on key innovation areas.

Other SAP Learning Resources

This announcement was followed by a short presentation detailing the variety of routes SAP beginners can take to achieving SAP certification. This section drew attention to the SAP Learning Journeys, training by product, and the Student Zone.

“Here is an example for beginners who would like to learn the basics of ABAP programming on SAP Business Technology Platform. This course offers 40 hours of free learning, and lets you discover how to apply some of the fundamental programming techniques on SAP BTP ABAP environment. The best part about the SAP learning journey is that they are all free, including this one here. Now … to the hands-on developer tutorials. These help you get hands-on experiences with the latest SAP technology, including SAP Business Technology Platform, SAP HANA cloud, SAP UI5, Integration Suite, and more. There’s a tutorial for almost any skill level. Whether you’re looking to develop your first SAP UI5 web app on Cloud Foundry, or you’re looking to connect to instances of SAP BTP ABAP environment, you’ll be able to find it all in our free developer tutorials.”

Attendees of SAP TechEd can get a discount on training until December 31, 2022.

Masses of Product Innovation Announcements

As well as the big announcements on entirely new products at SAP TechEd 2022, SAP has also released a statement detailing a huge group of new product innovations. Here is our pick of those which are likely to impact the work of SAP developers in the months ahead. The full list can be found by following the link above.

“SAP Business Application Studio now uses Code-OSS as its new platform, the open source technology used by Microsoft VS Code.

SAP Web Components are SAP’s new approach to provide enterprise-ready, SAP-supported UI components for professional developers using any Web UI framework. Additionally, SAP Mobile Services now supports new theming features from the SAP Fiori UX to help deliver engaging user experiences.

New integration between the SAP Document Management service and Google Workspace means developers can use Google Drive for content management.

Projects based on SAP Cloud Application Programming Model can now be developed on SAP BTP, Kyma runtime. We are also adding multi-tenancy capabilities in the SAP Cloud Application Programming model, which will help partners scale their applications to multiple customers more easily.

SAP is introducing even more capabilities for SAP BTP SDK for iOS, including concurrency support for Swift, new APIs for Apple Watch and augmented reality, and a whole new visual language, theming capabilities, and accessibility improvements. 

Customers can now use SAP BTP in new cloud environments and locations from SAP and hyperscalers.

SAP customers and partners can now use the SAP HANA Cloud database as a foundation to create intelligent data apps that are self-learning and adaptable, leveraging machine learning and AI.

SAP announces a new, unified user experience in the SAP Analytics Cloud solution, combining story design and composable analytics development.

SAP announces SAP Start, the new central entry point into the intelligent enterprise, provided by SAP free of charge and out-of-the-box with all cloud solutions from SAP. This new standard offering provides the most relevant business information in one central place based on the user’s role and is federated from all connected cloud solutions from SAP.

SAP announces a new implementation offering that dramatically shortens the time it takes to begin running SAP S/4HANA Cloud, public edition. Implementation now takes 30 days or less.

Enhancements to SAP’s mobile app portfolio: SAP Mobile Start, SAP Service and Asset Manager, SAP Ariba Shopping mobile app, SAP Warehouse Operator”

A Low Code Skills Gap Solution?

As a result of the changes announced at TechEd 2022, now the developer workload for business is no longer limited to the IT department. Now every role in business will have the potential to develop its own solutions to technological problems: assuming everything goes to plan. But what are the implications for this redistribution of responsibilities?

On the surface of it business leaders will be able to identify challenges and bottlenecks in business processes and act on them without outsourcing the job or waiting for internal IT teams to become available, resulting in a greater degree of agility and therefore resilience for the business.

It may become apparent that the role of IT departments is not limited to writing lines of code but also to problem solving at a conceptual level and producing a practical means of resolving these problems. IT professionals are extremely well adapted to thinking about systems in the abstract and it may be that, even though business-focussed members of a team may have to use those systems on a daily basis they do not have the rigorous logical/systematic training and experience that we have come to expect from IT practitioners.

We Still Need More Pro Coders

SAP is certainly not suggesting that there is any less need for pro coders. This is evidenced by the wide variety of new innovations being produced for the benefit of these professionals, and announced by SAP at TechEd 2022. Not least among those would be ABAP Cloud.

What SAP is doing with low code solutions is part of a series of measures to address the skills gap in business IT, and it will require careful management and delegation of tasks among departments to ensure that team members are not thrown in over their heads. Quality control of changes to the ERP system or any other business system will have to be extremely detailed so that businesses do not open a can of worms with the intention of reducing the workload.

While drag and drop app creation by “citizen developers” may be appropriate in some contexts, we cannot see this extending to the finance department for example. Low code may however be a huge benefit to small and medium sized businesses who do not have a huge IT budget.

From the perspective of IT professionals these changes do not represent a reduction in their workload but perhaps a changing of their role, and a reduction in repetitive tasks. The more that products like SAP Build are adopted, the more templates for every conceivable scenario will be requested, the more the understanding of the role of IT professionals among the rest of the business teams will be appreciated.

The main themes of TechEd 2022 were global disruption and environmental challenges, and one perhaps not mentioned specifically but implied is the disruption of traditional ERP by cloud technology. Cloud deployment models have not only increased the IT workload and skills gap because of the need to migrate on premise systems but they have also increased the rate of change and innovation in application development. Low code application development is also a response to this accelerated change and perhaps should be considered one among many necessary responses to the skills gap.

This is a welcome development but businesses will still need more pro coders.

Are you an application developer working in SAP? If you are looking to make the most of your skills with a new role then join us at IgniteSAP.